Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marzano, Scales, and Meaning

One thing that I've struggled with since it was introduced about 10 years ago was posted objectives.  At the time it was introduced I was teaching 4th grade, and didn't have enough space on my board to reference each and every objective we would be hitting on throughout the course of our day.  I've never been that "package and teach" educator that asks students to turn to lesson one and do it and put it away.  I don't believe that students make meaning out of those lessons, and after having a child that is finishing elementary this year, I KNOW they don't.  But, being the rule follower that I am, I played along.  I've tried, I've seen the research, but I still don't think it makes any difference in my classroom.  I have always referenced a purpose and goal throughout the lesson, used anticipatory sets and closure (yes, I'm dating myself) so I'm not sure how this cements learning.

The "tool of the year" for this school year is using scales with students to help them with metacognition.  Scales are a "fist to five" or a "thumbs up/thumbs down" formative type of assessment with more options.  Students read descriptors for an objective to decide where they think their learning falls.  The problem?  I don't think kids put any meaning into it once it becomes routine.  I started making students keep a learning log.  I've made the scales objective specific.  I give the students their own personal copy. They have even had to reflect daily about their understanding, learning, and purpose.  I've so wanted this to have true meaning for kids.  Sometime throughout the week, whether with an exit slip or on a quiz, I ask students to use evidence to back up their scale score.  "I'm a 4," a student wrote on a Friday quiz "because I know everything you taught me."  I wrote back..."Think about your self assessment and how it compares to your score.  What does a 4 really mean to you?"  The student's honest response...nothing.

I'd love to know what types of "scale" activities others are using to help make this a meaningful and purposeful tool.  But just like the posted objectives, these scale assessments that I'm having students participate in don't give much bang for the buck.

Here are some things that I've tried...they are pretty generic so anyone could use it.  If you are in need of some science specific ones, email me and I'd be happy to share what I've made so far.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Blogging Feature

For a while now I've wanted multiple pages set up so that I can put everything in one place.  Tonight I have made my first steps toward making my blog more than just a journal of my ramblings, I've made it a resource.  In the upper left column is a list of my resource pages.  Freebies is something that I've wanted to have for a while.  It's easy to return to the blog and find what it is that you are looking for.  The science blog sites is something that I put together for my last school as a resource and to encourage teachers that wanted to make science exciting.  The last, at least for now, is a reference for teachers on how to do different types of inquiry in their classrooms and the outline of the 5 E's often associated with quality science education.  In 2013, I want my blog to be a place that others can find the resources they need to be better science teachers.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birdseed Mining

We were fortunate enough to have someone come out to do mining education with our 7th graders.  The activity was a great interactive way to teach kids about all aspects of mining, while making the process a game.  I recently ran across the basic directions here.  She obviously made it more difficult for my kiddos, but still made it fun and educational for them.  When she first brought in the bird seed I thought, "I'm going to need to leave some goodies for the janitors tonight because this is going to be a mess!!"  Part of the activity included clean up and 2nd period was so meticulous that they hardly dropped a single seed.  This is a great STEM activity if you are looking for a way to incorporate birdseed mining into your earth science unit!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

8th grade Math CCSS Big Idea Posters

I get emails every week asking about the 8th grade CCSS here's at least a start.  They are free through either of my sites.  Just click below to grab a copy.  The large file of the individual I can statements and vocab cards may still be a while...I won't lie, but you never know how the next two weeks will go. :)

NASA and JPL lessons

Prior to break, the 7th graders had the chance to play with an awesome Mars simulation that was put together by NASA and JPL.  This was a perfect end to first and second quarter since we studied both astronomy and geology.  This unit can be extended for multiple days depending on how much background information that you want to build.  Since we had already spent a great deal of time back in 1st quarter learning and analyzing the missions of the Mars rovers, my students just spent 2 days planning missions and executing them.  This is an excellent STEM activity since students must budget their money, calculate their load's mass, and play a balancing act between what is required and what is wanted.  My husband picked up their newest version when he went to JPL to see the curiosity launch.  An older and similar version is here.  I printed the mats and cards in color and laminated them so that they can be used multiple years.  This was such a perfect activity for my gifted kiddos since they love activities just like this!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


As the mother of a kindergartner myself, there are no words to express my anger and sadness over Sandy Hook. Tomorrow, I invite you to join the other teacher bloggers in posting this button, and only this button, in your blog post.  For more information, check out Farley's post.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Giveaways Galore!!

I woke up this morning to so many blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, and emails that are throwing give aways or having freebies that I thought I'd pass along the goodies that I've found...

Kim @ Finding JOY in 6th Grade has a crazy gift card giveaway...just follow the link below each section to visit

Michelle @Making It as a Middle School Teacher is running the 12 days of Christmas Blog Hop.  This features a new freebie each day...

If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you will see each day's website that has added something new.  Today's is Juggling ELA...

Erin @Kleinspiration is offering a thank you gift, 21 graphic organizers, through the end of the year on Google Docs.

Mor @ A Teacher's Treasure has a Random Acts of Kindness download, perfect for this time of year!

Tips for Top Teacher's Giveaway has 27 different opportunities to enter!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

JASON Project...Changed, but still a great resource

If you've been following my ramblings for any length of time, chances are that you have read about how much I L-O-V-E the JASON project.  Then, how it lost funding and was a pay site. I was in search of fabulous resources today, I ran into some online activities that are still available and that tie directly into our current 7th grade study on rocks and minerals...YEAH!!!

The first place I found is called "Landform Detectives."  Students choose from several places from around the world and then the interactive simulation helps students learn about how that place was formed and how long it took.  I spent some time today looking at the Grand Canyon.

The second place I found was through Brain Pop called "Mastermines Lab".  Students can virtually experience testing and identifying unknown minerals.

Now, I'm not sure how long these links will be good for, since I tried to access them through JASON's main page and it requested that you register and pay.  But for the mean time...enjoy!